Reputation management. A part of SEM that few want to admit that they do. Looked upon as shady business. Many thinks it is about removing search results or creating black-hat`ish spam to dominate the SERPs. But is it really shady business? N-O, not if you do it for the right reasons.
Reputation management is all about controlling the top 10 for brand related searches. Because your online reputation = your top 10 in Google. It is almost that simple.
In my opinion, reputation management is smart SEM that most companies (and also all people if you ask me) need to do, bad reputation or not. It is SEM with the goal of avoiding bad search results if, or when, the shit hits the fan. Reputation management is also the work to increase your overall online presence, aka. “traditional SEM”. It is controlling the SERPS for brand related searches, before someone else does it. Reputation management is all about a broad presence of great online content, content so strong and relevant that negative news stories, blog posts or forum threads can`t outrank them for brand related searches. It is what SEO and paid search should be all about; relevance and great content.
With that in mind, here`s my 8 most basic tips for reputation management, that anybody can do. No shady business, just relevant content!
1. Buy your own brand name in AdWords!
Buy your own brand name in Google AdWords, in every possible variation, spelling errors included. It is cheap, and it will push all other results down, as Google gives the ads more and more space these days. Use all possible ways to make the ads for brand searches “fancy”: Maps, sitelinks, CAPS… the list goes on, and the possibilities are growing, as Google are developing into a search engine where ads dominate all space above the scroll (yes I sound bitter, I do SEO for a living…).
This is a screenshot from my 13 inch Mac screen. Ads taking up 80% of the space:
2. Optimise your own website
Of course you should always start with your own website. Good websites often gets more than 1 listing on searches for the brand name.
reputation management: make sure that all pages on your website is relevant for your brand name.
In case of reputation management, you should first of all make sure that all pages on your website is relevant for your brand name. How do you do this? Well, the easiest solution is to include the brand name in the domain name. This way is an easy win, both because of the URL itself and because of the links pointing towards your site with the brand name in it (mainly through being a part of the domain).
Also, include the brand name in the title-tag “tail” on each page:
<Product, relevant keyword – Brand Name>
Don’t forget the images! Try to use the brand name actively in- and surrounding all of them. This way you can also get images in the SERPS for searches on your brand. More on this later. The logo, which is usually the link back to the homepage from every page on site, should most definitely include the brand name in the file name and the alt. text. This way you tell the search engines through internal linking that the brand name is, in fact, very important for every page on the website.
And of course, mention the brand wherever relevant in both content and (internal) links.
3. Create one or more company blog(s)
I almost always recommend my clients to do all content on the same domain: www.company.com/blog
But in the case of reputation management, you should consider a separate domain: www.companyblog.com or a subdomain: www.blog.company.com.
Why? By making your blog relevant and with great and relevant content, the blog will for certain rank for your company-name within a very short time, in addition to your website. Remember your users and make sure the blog is frequently updated with interesting information, and the rankings will come. Maybe your company have experts in several areas of business? Create more than one blog! Every one of these, as long as they are relevant (remember this word, I will use it frequently), can be great for your (potential) clients and will take up important space in the SERPS.
4. Google maps/places
If you are not present in Google Maps, please be! It is (or at least it should be) easy to submit your company to the maps, and it will give you great local presence. As a bonus, the map-listings take up a lot of space in the SERPS, space that you now control:
Images takes up a lot of space in the SERPS, and can easily be controlled by you. Remember relevance of file name, alt-text and the content surrounding the image, and you can get an image-result like this to take up much needed space in the SERPS:
6. All things social
Google loves social, so you need to go there. Create and use Google +, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest… the list goes on and on. If it is relevant for your company, be there, be active, and social content that you control will dominate the SERPS!
If it is relevant for your company, be there, be active, and social content that you control will dominate the SERPS
Make sure that links pointing towards your site contains the brand name in the anchor text, surrounding the link or contains the brand name through the URL. Of course you cannot control all backlinks, but make sure the brand name is present in or around the ones you do control. Links are the strongest signal to Google on what your site(s) are all about.
Remember to do this with links to all the above mentioned sites, including your Google + page, which also contains your Google Maps listing:
Put them on your site, but make sure they are also on YouTube, marked up with your brand name. They will be visible in Google, and they will dominate the SERPS just as much as images.
But I don’t have a bad reputation…
Well, you don’t know what will happen in the future, do you? Everybody can make mistakes, and when it happens, you don`t want SERPS filled with bad results. You want them to contain content that you can control!
And fortunately, a great online presence is also great for your users. Win-win!